California Legislature Works to Override Cal’s Court-Ordered Enrollment Cap
Bill seeks to change a landmark state environmental-review law
California lawmakers have taken aim at the California Environmental Quality Act to save the enrollment of 2,629 students at the University of California, Berkeley.
On Friday, state legislators introduced two bills, which would override the state Supreme Court’s recent order to limit enrollment at Cal to its 2020-2021 level of 42,347 students. If passed into law, the bills would amend the landmark environmental-review law to give state university leaders 18 months to address any issue before a court could issue a ruling affecting enrollment growth.
“AB 168/SB 118 would address the recent unprecedented court ruling that ordered U.C. Berkeley to slash in-person enrollment this fall by more than 2,600 students,” said State Senate Budget Committee Chair Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) in a prepared statement.
“Jeopardizing the future of more than 2,600 students who earned a place at Cal is contrary to California’s longstanding priority to give more students, not fewer, the opportunity to benefit from our public universities and colleges,” added the state senator.
The court-ordered enrollment cap resulted from a successful lawsuit by the local activist organization Save Berkeley Neighborhoods, which cited the environmental-review law in its complaint. In a 2018 lawsuit, the group claimed an environmental impact report failed to address the impact of campus enrollment, which exceeded the university’s prior estimates by at least 30%.
Save Berkeley Neighborhoods, which says its mission is to “make U.C. Berkeley a good neighbor,” has accused the university of creating a housing shortage in Berkeley but has also challenged a proposed student housing project.
State legislators plan to vote on the bills as soon as next week.
March 24 is the deadline for the University of California, Berkeley, to send admissions letters to newly admitted first-year and transfer students. College students in the U.S. must typically select their college of choice by May 1, sometimes called “National College Decision Day.”
More than 45,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, in the fall semester of 2021. Cal’s enrollment is the second-largest in the 10-school University of California system.